3.22.2007

eBay is my "dealer"

Wow, it's been a busy week. I've been up late night after night for school and business alternately. Editorial deadlines are simply not fun, but at least jewelrymaking is. I don't mind staying up all night making things, but looking at pages upon pages of red and blue ink? I fell asleep before I had a chance to finish. Glad that's over with for now.

I've been keeping my local post office busy with packages coming in and packages going out. I don't need to buy clothes anymore, but I've become a serious beadaholic. I'm hooked on them like I'm hooked on dark chocolate and lemon drops; guess it doesn't help when they look so yummy.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I shop for beads like I do everything else--bargain style. I buy my supplies from everywhere--chain stores, specialty stores, eBay. I stake out suppliers who are not overly popular but offer great beads/components at great prices. Why the less popular guys? Because less popularity equals less competition, and less competition means fewer bids, which in turn means lower prices. I also go after the less popular (or some may say "weird") beads both for the price and the creative challenge. It's amazing what your imagination can do when you're forced to work with very different materials.

Since a lot of my supplies come from eBay, I thought I'd share my experiences. There's a couple of things to be on the lookout for when it comes to buying supplies and other things on the cheap:

-To prevent overbidding for something, check the Buy It Now (BIN) items first. A lot of times sellers offer lots of the same items for auction as well as BIN. To make the time and effort of bidding worth while, my auction price ceiling is always substantially lower than the BIN price.

-Another thing to consider is whether the seller is trustworthy. Sure, ratings help, but they don't tell the whole story. Having a trustworthy supplier is especially important if you're going to be selling your work--if you're vouching for something being "genuine" and it turns out you're wrong, you'll not only lose money, but your customers are going to bolt. If you plan on buying large quantities of supplies such as beads, you want to make sure to the extent possible that your money won't go to some incompetent or, worse yet, some shady character. Sometimes it's tempting to make a large purchase at a store that sells reasonably priced items in order to scrimp on shipping, but it's not a good idea. It's better to test out each seller with a small purchase first.

Case in point: I found seller A, who had a great selection of beads. That seller has quite a few customers, but not as much as a popular seller who had lots of bidders (and hence higher prices). I placed an order and found that the beads and prices were both great. On the second transaction, my order got screwed up, but I was so impressed by what a great job seller A did to make things right that I kept going back despite the faux pas.

Seller B offered beads at a great price, even better than A. I decided to place one small order to try it out. I emailed seller B regarding combined shipping, and it took forever for her to respond. I won 2 things for a very good price, but when I got the beads, some were damaged. B promised a refund, but didn't answer my emails for a week and a half until I sent a very tersely-worded one. The amount I was trying to get back wasn't much (under $2), but that's not the point--it's my money, the seller promised to give it back, and the seller just didn't handle it very well. I finally got my refund, but that's the first and last time I'm doing business with that store.

Do you have special tips? Enlighten us!

1 comment:

ambika said...

eBay really was my go-to option for beads until I finally made the 15 minute drive to a bead shop north of my neighborhood. I'd been shopping at a local store 5 blocks from my apt but given how trendy the neighborhood is, it was *expensive* and I tried to limit my purchases to findings.

I stick with eBay when I have a very specific idea in mind of what I want (gray freshwater pearls) but like the bead shop for browsing their sales bins & grabbing whatever I think I can make work.

I just really try to keep it cheap but fun.